It is absolutely true that success is built on dedication and perseverance. However, as any person who has ever achieved any significant level of accomplishment is bound to tell you, luck always comes into play.
What is luck? In my opinion, it is when a situation, in hindsight, meets a level of perceived improbability of occurrence. “What are the odds?!” and “Can you believe it?!” are often uttered when these situations occur. YouTube has tons of videos showing people surviving situations of incredible improbability of both the positive and negative variety. The Ancient Roman philosopher Seneca says, “Luck is where preparation meets opportunity.” He was later forced to commit suicide for his alleged role in attempting to assassinate the emperor Nero, although there’s evidence that he was actually innocent, so it may be worth asking what Seneca knew about luck. At any rate, his saying and his subsequent run-in with bad luck is a perfect example of how good luck can turn to misfortune when someone is ill-prepared for its arrival. Professional poker players and throwers of heavy implements are both strong examples of people who repeat behaviors countless times in preparation for when those few moments present themselves where everything just clicks.
So what will you have to present Lady Luck if she decides to pay you a visit? Excuses, apologies, and pleas for another chance? She is a cruel mistress and tends to be impatient and unforgiving. Or will you have built a solid foundation of time, effort, and sacrifice? Will you be ready to board the success train and ride it all the way?
Spend a moment each day making sure you do one thing to prepare yourself for when luck comes knocking. Think about what it would look like today if you found yourself “in the zone” in a competition and had the chance to demonstrate the best performance of your life. I remember years ago, when I was still small enough to sprint, my best friend and I had been consistently winning first and second place in the 100-meter sprint, with me consistently being the one in second. Then, one race, I was able to achieve Flow (refer to the post on Breaking Records, here, if you are unfamiliar), and it felt like I was weightless and flying ahead of him. I gained such a huge lead, and so, for some inexplicable reason, I decided to pull up. I still won the race, but to this day I still kick myself anytime that memory surfaces. Why did I let off the gas??? I could have lived out an experience that has never presented itself again in quite that fashion.
Never let off the gas—even if victory is yours! Keep pushing and grinding. Make sure your efforts are as efficient and directed as possible, and do everything you can to be prepared to answer the door ready if opportunity does come knocking.
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“The more I practice, the luckier I get.”—Gary Player